Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Oscars The Economy and Life

Watched the Oscars Sunday night with the occasional wince, the ocassional loud laugh and sometimes a bit of a tear in my eye. Overblown? yes, Self Important? Yes, but it still is something many of us, millions are interested in every year. Movies give us a look at how other people live, how they experience things, as much as the medium can do that, and how intense, amazing, funny, sad and complicated life can be. Time gets compressed, inferences are made and sometimes, many times, major details are manipulated to make the story more acceptable or appealing to movie goers. Given that the average age of movie goers is 14, that explains alot. When the more adult films come out, and look what got nominated, they tend to gross substantially less than the movies aimed at the 14 year old boy and girl. You have the business movie and the craft movie. Pixar is best at having merged the two genres, Wall-e is an excellent example of a kids movie that is asking some big questions.
I was happy to see Kate Winslet win for The Reader. I thought the film was excellent and she in particular was just stunning. What a range to encompass in an film and to play such a complicated yet simple character. I was also happy to see Penelope Cruz win for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The movie was woefully underappreciated and one of my fond movie memories of 2008.
How is the economic crisis going to impact movies this year? I don't know yet. I suspect some of the big budget films will continue to be made and that some of the smaller more adult films might get shelved. I would like to see a breaking up of the conglomerates that control the system now so that more smaller companies are involved and we see a return to more independent theatres etc. I doubt it'll happen but one can wish!
One last thing that struck me about the Oscars was the references by winners from the movie Milk, in particular Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn about Proposition 8 here in California. Going thru some personal experiences with hatred directed at me by others, gives me a certain degree of empathy to the whole issue around Proposition 8. So much of the pro prop 8 stance comes from hatred and fear of the different. Why do we let ourselves be drawn to and consumed by hatred of others. Hatred is such a toxic emotion and nothing good ever comes out of it. It destroys not only those the hatred is directed at but also those doing the hating, it destroys them from within. That Black and Penn had the courage to get up and speak to this issue is a testament to the use of the bully pulpit when you have the chance. In the movie The Reader, what underlies the story is a whole society that didn't speak up, didn't use the bully pulpit and became a nation filled with hatred and evil intentions. Normal everyday people who walk the street, breathe the air, just like you and me and they created and executed millions of people only because their religion was different.
It'll be nice to see if we can, in this time of economic peril, transcend this type of behavior and move forward to include and not exclude those among us who are our fellow human beings.


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